Fleet News

Thinking CAP - November 13

CAP's manufacturer relationships manager Martin Ward scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence

Monday

Invited by GM Europe’s fleet department to its test facility at Dudenhofen where it was holding a special event for fleet customers from around Europe.

It was held over four days with around 200 guests per day.

We were given a sneak pre-view of a number of models which will be launched in the next 12 months, including two from Opel/Vauxhall and three from Saab.

However, the most surprising were from Chevrolet.

The Cruze saloon goes on sale here in March and is Astra-sized, looks great and has very good interior quality.

Chevrolet is marketing it as an “exciting design in the value market”.

The other was the Volt – an electric car due on sale in North America in 2010 and over here in 2011.

It is powered by two batteries that weigh a total of 180kg and when fully charged have a range of 40 miles.

The clever bit is that it has a 1.4-litre petrol engine that cuts in when the batteries are getting low and charges them.

The engine does not in propel the car, it is just there as a generator.

To charge the batteries from flat to full takes three hours.

What a clever idea and, if priced sensibly, it should sell like hot cakes.

We learned a lot during the various workshops, and with some exciting and interesting designs coming, it should be in a reasonable position in the difficult period ahead.

Wednesday

To the IDIADA test track near Barcelona to drive an almost production ready SEAT Exeo, a four-door saloon and estate based on the previous model Audi A4.

The presses have been transported from Germany to Spain to produce the same doors, roof, front and rear wings as the A4, although the bonnet and rear boot and tailgate have been SEAT-ised.

SEAT says doing it this way was relatively quick and much less expensive than starting from scratch.

We drove a couple around the test track and found it to be as we anticipated with no creaks or rattles, just well put together, safe and solid.

The Exeo (the first time SEAT has used a name that is not a town or city in Spain or the Balearics, and is a ‘made-up’ name) looks OK, but does not have the wow factor.

However, it will somehow find, or create, a market for around 2,000 cars per year in the UK.

It goes on sale in the UK on April 2, and prices should be announced in January.

Friday

Straight to Ibiza from Barcelona to drive the all-new Ford Ka.

Simply put, this is a brilliant little car and will be available with either a 1.2-litre petrol or 1.3-litre diesel engine.

We drove both and they had more than enough power, although the diesel did just have the edge.

The interior is all right, not exceptional, but we are talking about an £8,000 Ford and not a £30,000 Audi.

Interior space has been improved, particularly in the rear, and also the boot space has been increased.

The dash-mounted gearstick works well and has a positive feel to it, all the switches look and feel good.

On the way back we were discussing the Ka and it seems the only criticism is the lack of an interior boot opening button – you have to use the key every time which was annoying.

But if that is all we could find wrong with the new baby Ford, then it must be O-Ka!
 

Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Login to comment

Comments

No comments have been made yet.

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee